MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Crutchlow: MotoGP’s brave heart
It’s taken him 98 races and 92 crashes but it’s all been worth it – Crutchlow has finally made it all the way to the top
Andrea Iannone one week, Cal Crutchlow the next; what a difference a week makes. It’s hard to think of two more different winners in the MotoGP paddock: Iannone, the tattooed, coiffured bad boy so in love with himself, and Crutchlow, the scruffy, amiable family man who would happily wrestle a grizzly bear if you gave him half the chance.
Crutchlow’s win at Brno was hugely popular within the paddock because he’s one of the good guys; usually joking, often a bit rude and always straight down the line. He says what he thinks and damn the consequences. Within the shiny MotoGP bubble, where pretence and smoke and mirrors dazzle way too many people, Crutchlow stands out like a greasy-haired rocker in a bunch of preening, perfumed mods. What you see is what you get.
The 30-year-old has talent, make no mistake about that. But if Valentino Rossi’s skill has a glint of the divine about it, then his is entirely earthly, dug out at the coal face of racing: blood, sweat and tears all the way.
Crutchlow works hard, goes about his job, trips up rather too often, but doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, because very few people know what it’s like trying to match Marc Marquez on an RC213V. He is currently top of the 2016 crashing league with 16 tumbles so far, including Saturday’s huge get-off in which he wrote off an RCV in one go. In typical Cal speak, he apologised to his team for “sending the bike to the graveyard”. Over the past six and a half years he has crashed a MotoGP bike 92 times.
It’s one thing to crash a lot; it’s very much another to keep coming back for more – to suck up the pain, face down the fear and yank open the throttle once again. “I like to suffer,” he told me a while back.
Carlos Checa was the same. The Spaniard, who beat Mick Doohan in his prime on a 500 and later won the World Superbike title, was another who fell off rather too often but always limped back to the pits, climbed aboard his spare bike and went even faster. His crew stood wide-eyed in awe, because even in top-level bike racing this isn’t normal. I recall seeing one of Checa’s mechanics wandering around the paddock with his legs bowed, saying “clank, clank!”. I asked him what it was all about. “It’s Carlos,” he grinned. “And his big balls of steel."
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.